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Isle of May NNR - Visiting the reserve

Visit the Isle of May NNR to experience a magical mix of seabirds, seals and smugglers.

 

 

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Getting here

You’ll need to take a ferry to reach the Isle of May. Ferries run from April to September and depart from Anstruther in the East Neuk of Fife and North Berwick in East Lothian.

Anstruther

Boats depart from the harbour and tickets can be purchased from the ticket office by the Lifeboat station. There is parking (200 metres) and the nearest bus stop is at East Shore (100 metres).

Anstruther Pleasure Cruises

The fast rigid inflatable boat (RIB) Osprey – which is open to the elements – is suitable for groups up to 12. You can have 2 to 3 hours on the island or take a non-landing trip. Waterproofs will be provided.

For further details, please check the website, contact by email (info@isleofmayferry.com) or telephone (07957 585200).

Isle of May boat trips

A round trip of up to 5 hours in the May Princess, including time to explore the island. The ferry has 100 seats – 35 covered – refreshments, a toilet and partial disabled access.

For further details, please check the website, contact by email (info@isleofmayboattrips.co.uk) or telephone (07473 631671). 

North Berwick

This is a 4-hour round trip, including time to explore the island. Depending on when you land, you are either accompanied by a guide or are free to explore on your own. Please check with the Scottish Seabird Centre when booking (telephone 01620 890202). Travel is on a rigid inflatable boat (RIB), which is open to the elements. Waterproofs will be provided.

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Isle of May National Nature Reserve

Five miles east of Anstruther. Boats are available from Anstruther (five miles) and North Berwick (thirteen miles). Public bus service to both harbours. Contact SNH for boat operator details or visit www.nnr-scotland.org.uk










For visitors

A guide to the island will be given when you book your ticket along with a map to guide you around the reserve.

Visitor centre

The visitor centre is open throughout the season.

It nestles into a slope overlooking the main harbour. An external viewing area looks out across the island. It has excellent views of wildlife, the shoreline and the south of the island. Large windows offer more sheltered viewing from inside the building.

An outdoor information area provides details on where to go and what can be seen around the island. We update this regularly with news and wildlife sightings. Interpretation boards inside provide more information about the island through the seasons, it wildlife, work and research. There are also information panels around the island, which explore the Isle of May’s history and people.

SNH Cupar office telephone: 01334 654038

Toilets

There is a fully accessible toilet at the visitor centre.

Anstruther harbour has an accessible toilet in the harbour car park. Please contact Fife Council for opening times and accessibility information. Telephone 01592 417823.

Rest areas

Shelter is available in the visitor centre, the South Horn and the old bath house. The visitor centre has no steps. The South Horn has a flight of steps with a handrail, and there are steps going into the bath house.

Trails for all

Explore the network of paths around the island. Our visitor map shows the variety of routes and best places to visit on the island.

Copies of the map are available for all visitors to the island.

Seasonal highlights

May and June are the best times to see breeding seabirds.

Spring

Seabirds begin to gather on the Isle of May in April, with numbers increasing throughout the spring. You’ll see guillemots, fulmars, terns, gulls and, of course, the cheeky little puffins. Spring is a good time to watch courtship rituals. You’ll also hear the soft cooing of male eider ducks – and look out for the females nesting right next to the paths.

Summer

In summer the island’s birds are busy with their young – rearing and fledging. At the peak of the seabird breeding season, this small island supports more than a quarter of a million birds!

Autumn

Autumn sees a build up in the grey seal numbers around the island as they gather to breed. The Isle of May is also a convenient stopover for migrating birds. More than 250 species rest here on their journeys north or south.

Winter

The Isle of May can have up to 2,000 seal pups in autumn and winter. As one of the most important sites for seals in the east of Scotland, it’s a valuable centre for research.